By MyVue News.com Staff Reporter
Basseterre, Monday, 12th June, 2023, (My Vue News.com)- A stern warning has been issued by the Government of St. Kitts & Nevis, that its territory will not be allowed to become a “safe haven” for human traffickers and persons who use illegal means to enter the borders.
This comes as a group of 14 citizens from Cameroon, Africa, were granted status as asylum seekers, on 10th June, 2023.
The Cameroons protested their detention and went on a hunger strike last week, making certain demands. Legal action was also taken against the government to block their forced repatriation.
In earlier releases from the government, it was said that the Government of Antigua had agreed to allow the Africans to return to St. John’s, but the Gaston Browne government later reneged on that commitment, leaving the problem in the lap of St. Kitts & Nevis authorities.
The fourteen (14) Cameroon nationals were rescued at sea on 28th March, 2023, travelling from nearby Antigua, and on their way to another Caribbean state when their vessel is said to have developed trouble.
On June 8th 2023, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) granted the Cameroon nationals “Asylum Seeker Status.”
According to UNHCR’sdefinition, an asylum seeker is “someone whose request for sanctuary is yet to be processed.”
Therefore, in addition to being protected against forced repatriation to their home country, the Cameroon nationals are entitled to humanitarian care while their asylum requests to UNHCR are being processed.
The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis said it will continue to collaborate closely with UNHCR and provide the Cameroon nationals with the necessary basic humanitarian services.
The official Asylum Seeker Certificates were hand-delivered to the Cameroon nationals at noon on June 10 th, 2023, and the extended humanitarian provisions the Government has agreed to provide were also clearly communicated to them, revealed a government source.
One such consideration is the Government’s decision to release them from detention and relocate them to an apartment complex to increase their comfort and autonomy. This arrangement will remain in place for ninety (90) days while their asylum applications are in progress.
In response, the Cameroon nationals communicated the following three (3) demands and stated that their hunger strike which they started the afternoon of June 9th , 2023, will continue until they have been met:
1. They wish to be issued with a United Nations identification card.
2. They wish to speak with the United States (US) Embassy or the US Congress.
3. They wish to be sent to their Cameroonian friends and family in Texas, US, as they claim they are specially protected under US law.
It was explained to the Cameroon nationals that these demands fall outside of the remit and authority of the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis, save and accept the granting of access to communicate with the US Embassy.
In this regard, they have been provided with the requisite email addresses, telephone numbers, and the physical address of the United States Embassy in Barbados.
In short order, the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis will be reviewing our nation’s asylum legislation and procedures as we cannot and will not tolerate illegal migration going forward.
Photo: Minister of National Security and Prime Minister, Dr Terrence Drew